Self Assessment: don’t leave it all to the wire

If you’re relying on your accountant to help you with your self-assessment tax returns, the earlier you’re able to get organised the better, suggests CLAIRE CHARLTON.

As accountants, we always like to be proactive and remind clients of the need to get their records, receipts and other relevant information ready as far as possible in advance of their filing deadlines. Inevitably pressures of business and life can get in the way and the records only arrive as January 31st looms.

Of course, any professional accountancy firm will do their best to turn things around speedily, but it’s not an ideal scenario from anyone’s point of view for things to be done at the last minute, as it leaves very little time to budget for the tax liability.

If you’re able to get ahead of the game, you’ll not only avoid last-minute panics and the danger of possible surcharges and interest for late payment of tax, but you may well have the opportunity to spend some time discussing tax planning options with your accountant too.

Sending your information to us in plenty of time before the deadline also allows us to plan resources cost effectively, helping to minimise the cost to you.

So the message is to think ahead and give us a call.  If you are able to send us the information we need early enough, we may be able to recalculate any payment on account you have to make in the summer.  It may well be that reducing your July payment is worth considering, especially if your income is down on the previous year and accounts have already been prepared to confirm this.  For employees who file self-assessment returns, you could take action as soon as you have received your P60.

We can then consider the tax that will be due the following January and you can start to budget based on your cash-flow projections. It’s a common sense approach which will allow both you and your accountant to sleep that little bit easier in the New Year.

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